The familiar cold wind of fall hit the Pine Barrens, turning tree leaves red and plucking them off the branches. Piles of fallen leaves build higher, but the next gust carries them, hitting the side of an isolated house with a bronze label reading "Gordon Drale". Some leaves get carried around the corner, pushed into the banks of the still lake. These leaves stay afloat the water, with only a select few sinking.
The sun hardly up, the wooden back door of the isolated house slowly opens with the wind, drawing the attention of the home owner, sitting in a camouflage open-able chair next to a fireplace, still burning but slowly going out. He stood up and walked over to the door, slamming it closed. "Damned hinges couldn't hold their own weight!" he mumbled, turning back to return to his fire.
Turning back around, he felt another cold breeze come, this time, the fire got even lower. The darkness of the just ending night surrounded him. He continued walking, not being easily afraid of this sort of thing after living in the Pine Barrens for years.
He reached his chair before long, and grabbed the model 29 revolver he always had near him in case of a black bear, or other creature appearing. It was always better safe than sorry. Feeling the weight of his eyes hurt at the glow of the sun, he eventually decided it was time to rest.
He made the turn, now with his revolver, back into his house, closing the back door. He attached the lock on the inside of the door, and walked towards his bedroom. Laying down when the sun rises wasn't usually his thing, but tonight, it seemed right. Revolver on his bed stand, he faded away.
The loud noise ricochets through the wooden house, causing Gordon to instantly wake up. Unaware of what he heard. He lies in bed, waiting for the noise again.
Nearly jumping up, he grabs the revolver and points it at the bedroom door, waiting for the sound again. A loud thump seemed to come from right behind him. He spun around right away, to see a brown blur fly up as another thump sounded, but this time on the roof above.
Out the window, footsteps were visible right in front of the lake. "The sound was a footstep?" he thought to himself, confused. A clicking sound echoed above his head. Again and again, the click of the tiles on the roof being hit with something sounding like metal.
Near impossible to decide if he should leave to witness this thing for himself, or stay still and safe. Eventually, after much waiting, the noises stopped. No tile hitting, no walking, only Gordon hearing his own deep breath, trying to stay silent. Suddenly, the noise familiar to any hunter, pulling skin, or tearing fabric broke the silence. A large gust of wind picked up, and a large thump was heard from the backyard.
Curiosity driving him crazy, he made sure his revolver was loaded, and ran through the kitchen, out the back door. In shock he stayed still, wordless. The bottom half of a whitetail deer laid on the ground, with leaves blown over it.
Blood dripped right off the roof, hitting the ground next to him, where it had already begun a small puddle. Gagging and disgusted, he closed the door again, thinking of any possibility or explanation. Eventually deciding that he couldn't leave this corpse lying in his back yard. It could attract some unneeded attention from bears, shocked hunters roaming the area, or worse. That thing.
Walking back out the door, he sits in shock once more, but this time thinking as he stares. Too much time was being wasted. He walked towards the body, and grabbed a hold on the leg of the bottom half of the deer. Dragging it, a small amount of blood drips from the revealed, or what was left of the intestines. Choking up, Gordon closed his eyes as he dragged it further away from his house. Opening them once he regained his thoughts, he saw the footprints.
Easily identified as deer footprints due to the distinct shape, he began to question if this thing pulled the deer unto the roof, or if this deer jumped to the roof. No, no. That left too many questions. Even if this deer somehow managed that impossible jump, what explains the missing half? What explains the parade of noises on the roof?
This thinking would rattle in his mind like a poison for minutes on end, constantly trying to think of a reason. Not knowing what to do, from being uncomfortably fragile from these questions, Gordon simply dragged the legs to the first thing he saw. The lake. With one kick, the legs sunk into the ever-clear abyss, filing the crystal water with a morbid tint of red.
Gordon, after a bit more processing, had a brilliant idea. The hunting camera he had set to film deer walking around his house. Jogging to the camera, which was strapped to a tree right beside his fire place in front of the lake, he unstrapped it at a speed he didn't even know he could force. Flipping the camera backwards and taking the film out. Gordon pulled out his flashlight and placed it behind the film, showing the tan and black images.
Nothing. The camera had taken six pictures, meaning it felt or tracked motion, but they were empty. Simple leaves blowing over his head, and into the lake. Sometimes, the camera was at a slightly altered angle, nothing harder to explain than simply a wind gust. With a sigh, Gordon thought once more in his head, "Absolutely nothing? Even that deer should have been in the frame." So much confusion came from a dead deer and empty images, nothing a hunter should be confused about.
The idea came back, as he rushed to the space between his wooden house and the ground, underneath the window. Placing batteries back in the camera, he put the camera in this area, and returned back inside. "It's just a bear. An odd incident. Nothing these pictures won't resolve," he thought to himself, stewing to himself over the television and cheap food products until night came.
When the sun just reached the horizon, when the moon replaced its spot on the opposite end of the sky, that is when the paranoia set in. The images of what it might be filled his mind more than what it probably is. Not a sound was heard. No clicking on the roof. No foot steps. No spreading of fabric or flesh.
Pure silence filled the entire night, but that did not stop Gordon from receiving no rest, revolver in hand. Until the sun began to rise, he sat right there, watching the television to take his mind of what was most likely something stupid he would tell his grandchildren one day.
Gordon did not move from his select spot until the sun came to the center of the sky. Fading in and out of sleep for minutes at a time, he could not sleep fully until he got his conclusion. His closure. Walking gently through the kitchen again and out the back door, it was like opening another realm. Nothing was out of order.
The fire was still out, the leaves were spread perfectly across the yard, but one thing hit Gordon. One thing hit him like a wall. The blood was gone. It had never occurred to him that he forgot to clean it himself. The wonderful ideas of all things dark and dreary came again, this time closer to home. Instantly he began moving to get the camera.
Now, he saw them. Footsteps. Deer footsteps at first glance, but upon further inspection, Gordon could see four visible toes as opposed to the deer's foot having two. Also, the way these footsteps were set inspired the idea of this thing having two feet. They were placed as human footsteps would be, and even matched his own. Was he the victim of some cruel prank?
The hunting camera laid in perfect position, just as he left it. No water was near the camera, so no rain came to wash the blood away. With a pull of both hands, the camera slid loose and into his hands. Again removing the batteries, he took the film out and placed his small black flashlight under the film. Two legs stood perfectly in front of the camera.
For three solid images, these legs stayed in a motionless state. A tail was nearly touching the ground behind them, but inches above contact. Four curled spikes that he estimated to be the size of his middle finger spread up the bottom of the tail. The camera data remained blank after that. "The camera was under the window of the bedroom, so was this thing returning to my window to see if I was there?" Gordon said out-loud, but hardly loud enough for even himself to hear. Gordon decided this would be the last night.
The police would laugh him off, even with these footprints and pictures. He had a bad reputation for being subject to speculation and the like for his whole life, and laughed off by police before. Hunting was his only release from this. His only given skill. His secluded area surrounded him in what was paradise, now a tomb for his paranoia.
No more. This mutant freak of nature would not force him out of his house. This creature would not end his once beautiful reign over this area. Never. One more night and it would be settled. One more night and this useless misery could end. Gordon went out, and began the two hour drive away from home, purchasing two full bottles of straight whiskey.
Something would need to keep him up for the night and calm him down. The drink that accomplishes both at once seemed perfect. The ride back, now that was a stretch. The entire ride was filled with ideas. If he should alert the police, if he should tell a friend. How many times would he be open to being laughed out and separated? Never again.
Upon arrival, the sun was meeting the middle of the sky. Noon. Roughly ten or twelve hours to pass before he was to lure this thing out. He sat in the open-able camouflage chair next to the still out fire place in the back yard, and watched the woods. Some sort of relaxation was bliss.
Two days of this would be nothing in the minds of anyone else, but his paranoia was not easily shed. After drinking half of the first Whiskey bottle, he finally got some rest he needed for the last two days. In that small chair, he leaned to his right side and faded away. Gordon opened his eyes, and immediately saw something wrong. The fire place had been lit. The fire was average size, and even had wood stocked in the fireplace. The sun was down, and the moon had yet again taken its spot in the sky.
"Alcohol can extend the sleep. But the fire?" he thought as he stared confusingly at the flame. Gordon began to aim his revolver, which never left his left pocket except when he bought the whiskey, around in the air in hopes of seeing something. A sudden gust of wind came again, this time feeding the fire and forcing it to grow slightly, as a loud thump sounded on his roof again. The dark, black shape rose on his roof slowly, and he saw the spiked tail and wings where arms should be.
Frantically, he ran toward the house. Opening the door with one hand, he slammed it behind him as hard as he could, causing some glass cups to crash over to the floor. Locking the door, he ran into his room, and closed that door as well. Back against the door, he stared over his bed, across the room from him. The window had the whole of the night behind it. The black void was shapeless around the end of the lake.
Suddenly, the loud thump sounded again. It was outside the window, but to the side more. Then, the movement. This oddly shaped beast moved to the corner of the lake and began to drink. In the darkness, Gordon could make out the faint shape. The legs and tail were as they were before, and wings were in the place of arms.
Two horns stretched from the oddly shaped head as it bent down for liquid. The same liquid he dumped the deer legs in, and had been contaminated with the blood. A sudden twist of this creature's head let out a ghastly snapping noise, as it stared right back at him. Gordon raised the revolver to the window, and stood still, hoping now that this thing would leave. All confidence was gone.
Maybe he should have alerted the police. Maybe he should have told a friend. Surely his reputation could have survived one more sore spot. But it was too late. At this point, the shape was outside of his window. It pointed its head down and pressed against the glass lightly. Now, the darkness didn't shield his eyes.
The head was a bony skull, with two horns coming out of it. The eye sockets hollow, but Gordon knew it was watching him. With fear and shock, Gordon pulled the trigger. The bullet hit right under the right horn, and above the eye socket, taking the horn off of its head and opening the eye socket to the top.
The bullet took the skull section. This thing that could only be described as a Devil stood for a few seconds, motionless, before looking into the air and letting out a bastardy scream. Flapping its wings once, it created an all-to-familiar gust of wind. The body then fell into the window, landing on the opposite side of the bed.
Gordon crawled over the bed to inspect the fresh corpse, and looked at every detail as close as he could. "Three days with that torment is three days too long," he whispered, letting out a victorious giggle of a laugh. It only took a few moments to look back at the skull. The blood of the creature poured out, but rather than a deep, horror movie esque red, it was a bright orange, enough to light the room.
The room became uncomfortably hot, as the bed burst into flames. Gordon let out a fast scream as he jumped off the newly ablaze bedroom, and ran outside out the back door. The flame of the house allowed him to see the lake. The lake was tinted with an unsettling red, and the fireplace now was lit with an extraordinarily large flame. The wind blew into the house, feeding the fire that had consumed his wooden home.
Without hesitation, Gordon ran around the corner of the house to his truck, and turned it on. Headlights toward the house, he could see no body or tail hanging out the window, and he knew it couldn't have burned away so fast. Questioning was causing too much time, as he pulled out of the drive way. Out of his rear view mirror, as he left his once wooden paradise behind him, he saw something so beautiful, so twisted, and so tormenting that he would later be considered traumatized for.
An odd shape flying over his blistering hot house, tail behind it. Both horns included.